April 30 - The Roca brothers' family restaurant El Celler de Can Roca in Girona took top honours at The World's 50 Best Restaurants award show, as international competition gave the Europeans a run for their money. Even the chefs at the top of their game say the current economic climate means they have to keep a close eye on their finances. Joanne Nicholson reports.
UPSOUND Three brothers from Spain scooped the coveted award that's known for catapulting restaurants to international fame. And at a time when the euro zone is still deeply entrenched in the financial crisis, with Spain being one of the worst hit, the accolade of being voted the world's top restaurant has made the Roca family very proud. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) WINNER OF THE 50 BEST RESTAURANTS AWARD, JOAN ROCA, SAYING: "I was very happy, not just me but also my brothers. It's been a very special evening because we have received a very important professional prize." British chef Heston Blumenthal won the title for his restaurant, the Fat Duck, in 2005, but it's now slid to the 33rd slot. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ENGLISH CHEF, HESTON BLUMENTHAL, SAYING: "At this level, the chefs aren't safe from walking a financial tightrope, and also I can guarantee you that every single chef - not one person - every single chef in this whole event will be doing what they're doing not because of the money." Noma in Copenhagen - known for its foraged food - won three years in a row. But not even the prestige of that can allow you to be complacent, says head chef Rene Redzepi. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PREVIOUS WINNER, RENE REDZEPI, SAYING: "Financial crisis - top restaurants, it's the first place where people save, so absolutely that is an issue for the most expensive or best restaurants. Everybody knows this, doesn't everybody know this by now, that if you have these restaurants where the chefs are working like maniacs eighty hours a week to deliver a menu for forty, fifty, sixty anticipating guests every night, the margins are so tight." Restaurants from emerging economies now have a footing on the international stage too. A Peruvian restaurant took the number 14 slot Brazil's D.O.M was in the top ten And there were three new entries from Asia. William Drew is from Restaurant Magazine, which hosted the event. (SOUNDBITE) (English) RESTAURANT MAGAZINE EDITOR, WILLIAM DREW, SAYING: "To get to the very top, you can't be normal. You can't be run of the mill. You can't even be very good at what you do. You've got to be exceptional." Europe's days of dominance may be coming to an end. While it still holds the top places, some of the big names have dropped much further behind the new international competition